The latest street food place-to-be for food truck owners and foodies alike – the first Tucson food truck pod – will launch Thursday, May 31 at Civano Nursery, 5301 S. Houghton Road in Tucson, Arizona. Initial plans include up to four food trucks, operating Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 PM.
I had a chance to connect with Kenn Goldman, organizer of Tucson Food Truck Pods, to ask him a few quick questions. Kenn is also co-owner of Dragoon Market & Cafe, a catering and mobile food business specializing in freshly prepared southwestern-inspired foods and desserts. ~ Kim Bayne
Kim Bayne: What exactly is a food truck pod?
Kenn Goldman: It's a permanent or semi-permanent gathering of food trucks (food trailers, food carts, etc.) in the same location, usually open set days and hours.
Kim Bayne: Why did you start one?
Kenn Goldman: It's a more sustainable business plan for food trucks. Events are fun and exciting, but when you have 365 days a year to fill out a schedule, doing 10 to 20 events in a year isn't enough to support a food truck business that does it full-time. Plus, it's easier for customers to know where you'll be on a consistent basis and it also helps create a regular customer base.
Kim Bayne: How long have you been working on starting the first pod?
Kenn Goldman: I've been trying to get businesses and organizations interested in hosting this for over a year!
Kim Bayne: What were your biggest challenges?
Kenn Goldman: First of all, we live in Dragoon (a rural area 65 miles southwest of Tucson) and not physically being in Tucson was the first hurdle – although I know it well since I lived in Tucson for over 15 years.
Second of all, a year or so ago – there were not very many food trucks and the ones I talked with thought they would do better if they were set up alone. They figured they could make more money without the extra competition.
And third, none of the businesses or organizations I talked with had any interest in having food trucks at their location. Besides all that, we didn't have any problems! ;-)
Kim Bayne: How did you recruit the different food trucks who will participate in the pod?
Kenn Goldman: I either spoke with them at previous events or put out the word via Facebook pages, email lists, etc.
Kim Bayne: What does it cost for a food truck to participate?
Kenn Goldman: All the money goes to the Civano Nursery. It's $25 per day per food truck.
Kim Bayne: What do you think a food truck pod contributes to the southern Arizona community?
Kenn Goldman: Well, like many of our politicians continue to remind us – the growth of small businesses is the key to return our economy to healthy state.
In addition, I think food truck pods can do a lot for local communities: get neighbors to meet and interact with each other, encourage all of us to shop and think locally, form a bond with the food truck owners, open up folks to different types of foods they might not be familiar with, let alone try these different foods.
We could also potentially help revitalize certain neighborhoods, bringing folks to areas they might not have patronized before and – most importantly – help bring a sense of real community to this very car-oriented culture.
Kim Bayne: How do you think the food truck pod fits in with the local food truck roundups and other events?
Kenn Goldman: They'll continue to be vital to the food truck community. Right now, besides the Civano Nursery Food Truck Pod, there currently are no other pods that I'm aware of. So, the events will be the best way to get the word out to the community that we're here.
Kim Bayne: Besides food trucks, what other plans do you have for the pod?
Well, the Civano Nursery space is limited – maybe only a max of four trucks per day. But some days we might have local artisans demonstrating their artwork and offering it for sale. We plan on having certain days where the food trucks will feature a locavore menu, meaning using food and produce that's been grown locally (within a 50 mile radius, usually) and maybe even live music at different times during the year.
Micro enterprises is the fastest growing trend in the small business world. Food trucks are a part of that. My dream is that in bigger locations throughout Arizona, not only will food truck pods sprout up all over, but other mobile businesses (barber, bike repair, eyeglasses, flowers, mobile devices, music, etc.) will be right besides us to offer a one-stop local shopping for busy commuters, neighbors, tourists, etc!
Kim Bayne: What tips or advice would you offer food truck owners in other cities who would like to start a food truck pod?
Kenn Goldman: Don't give up! Sometimes we're (businesses, artists) ahead of the trends and it takes a while for others to catch up. (Everyone needs to) become educated to the win-win scenarios of combining the best of certain businesses/entertainment for the betterment of all.
For more info, visit and "like" Tucson Food Truck Pods on Facebook.